In 2017 Norway’s chemical, oil refining and pharmaceutical industry had sales of NOK 157.3 billion (€16.1 billion), of which NOK 94 billion were exports (59.8%). The sector employed 13,000 full-time equivalents, and generated NOK 37.4 billion (€3.8 billion) of added value. Official statistics treat chemicals, oil refining and pharma as a single industry.
In an industrial economy dominated by petroleum and mechanical engineering, chemicals forms part of the nation’s process industries.
The chemical industry is export-oriented, and highly exposed to global competition. Though the industry benefits from access to hydro power and is environmentally-friendly, competitiveness is curbed by high wage costs and a strong currency – though falling oil prices have recently eased the pressure.
Chemical plants are chiefly located along the coastline, close to hydroelectric power plants and deep, ice-free harbours. There are some local concentrations of chemical and other process industries – sometimes in industrial parks or in clusters operating across regional borders. International companies dominate the chemical and other process industry in Norway.
Norwegian chemical production centres upon basic inorganics, fertilizers, petrochemicals, polymers, and some specialties and bio-refineries. The pharmaceutical industry is relatively small.
Biotech start-ups are located around the universities in Oslo and Tromsø.
Universities are located in four of the 10 counties with numerous process industry companies. The University of Technology and Science in Mid-Norway has the closest links with the chemical sector.